Community colleges in Colorado offer in-state residents excellent academic programs at affordable per-credit tuition rates. Graduates can apply their associate degree toward a bachelor's-completion program or transition immediately into the workforce. Community colleges typically also offer professional development courses and certificate programs, which can qualify working professionals for promotions or higher salaries at their current jobs.
Today's community colleges in Colorado are more accessible than ever; online courses give learners with personal and/or professional obligations the flexibility to earn their degree from the comfort of their home.
Finding the right school to fit your interests and goals can be challenging. To help prospective students, we compiled a list of the best community colleges in Colorado. The schools below feature excellent associate degree and certificate programs, financial aid opportunities, and valuable support for online students. Learners who attend these schools can earn a degree in just two years, though that time frame may shrink if they possess transfer credit from other regionally accredited schools.
Best Community Colleges in Colorado
- Morgan Community College - Fort Morgan, CO
- Aims Community College - Greeley, CO
- Trinidad State Junior College - Trinidad, CO
- Arapahoe Community College - Littleton, CO
- Community College of Aurora - Aurora, CO
- Lamar Community College - Lamar, CO
- Front Range Community College - Westminster, CO
- Northeastern Junior College - Sterling, CO
- Otero Junior College - La Junta, CO
- Pikes Peak Community College - Colorado Springs, CO
Before you commit to an associate degree, be sure to research Colorado's largest employment sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the most common occupational fields for Colorado residents include office and administration support, sales, healthcare and technical occupations, and computer occupations. Each of these fields -- many of which confer lucrative salaries -- requires an associate or bachelor's degree. A community college can help you save considerably on tuition before transferring to a four-year university.
An associate degree from a community college is a solid investment in your financial future, as professionals with an associate degree benefit from higher salary growth than their peers with only a high school diploma.
Ranking the Best Community Colleges in Colorado
Morgan Community College
|Fort Morgan, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Morgan Community College offers associate degrees entirely online or at one of the college's five campuses. Degree-seekers can select from over two dozen AA and AS programs, nearly half of which transfer automatically to Colorado public colleges and universities. This community college in Colorado organizes degrees into six academic fields, including agriculture, skilled trades, and STEM.
In addition to traditional programs, MCC offers an Alternative Credit Project that allows incoming students who previously dropped out of college to transfer credit. Other unique educational opportunities include the workplace education program, where local Cargill employees can take courses such as math, English, and reading at no cost.
Prospective students can apply for the spring, fall, or summer semester. MCC allows high school students to participate in concurrent enrollment at a discounted tuition rate. Some incoming degree-seekers may qualify for a foundation or institutional scholarship. All in-state learners qualify for Colorado's Opportunity Fund, which awards an $85 stipend for each credit students attempt.
Aims Community College
|Greeley, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Aims Community College offers numerous academic opportunities including college programs for high school students, workplace development, ESL programs, and evening courses. The college's three dozen academic areas include automotive, health programs, and business technology. The school features associate and certificate programs in a multitude of fields.
Online learners at this Colorado community college receive one-on-one help from academic advisors. Students take most assessments online but in some cases may need to travel to an authorized testing center. Additionally, online courses use the same semester format as on-campus courses, meaning that distance learners receive an academic experience comparable to that of on-campus students.
Incoming students take ACCUPLACER assessments to determine initial English and math course placements. Learners with excellent ACT or SAT scores do not take placement tests. Each year, the college awards more than 80 Aims Foundation Scholarships to eligible students. Degree-seekers who earn at least 12 credits at Aims with a minimum 3.0 GPA can apply.
Trinidad State Junior College
|Trinidad, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Trinidad State Junior College offers dozens of academic programs including associate degrees, transfer degrees, and certificates. Unique programs include massage therapy, manufacturing technologies, reflexology, and welding technology. The college also prepares learners for the GED by offering specialized courses on its Trinidad and Valley campuses. These courses take place in the evening so students can continue working full time.
TSJC offers more than 100 online courses each semester through the Colorado Community College System. Students can choose from traditional 15-week or accelerated 10-week courses. Only the occupational safety and health technology program can be completed entirely online; all other academic programs use a hybrid learning model.
Prospective degree-seekers at this community college in Colorado can apply for the summer, fall, or spring semester. All applicants submit a scholarship application. Transfer students submit official college transcripts, and incoming learners without ACT or SAT scores take placement tests. New Mexico students pay in-state tuition rates.
Arapahoe Community College
|Littleton, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Arapahoe Community College offers dozens of certificates, AA, and AS programs, including a biology transfer major, business administration - international business and foreign language, and computer information systems - computer support. Online education support services at this community college in Colorado include orientation and career advising.
Courses feature a 13-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, one of the lowest of all Colorado community colleges. Along with excellent associate programs, ACC offers two bachelor's programs: a bachelor of science in nursing and a bachelor of applied science in emergency service administration. ACC also ranks first for Colorado high school students who take advantage of dual enrollment.
ACC offers numerous online courses, though no program allows learners to earn a degree entirely online. Prospective students can apply to the Littleton, Parker, or Castle Rock campus. Admission requirements vary for high school graduates, homeschooled students, and undocumented learners. All incoming learners apply for financial aid by submitting FAFSA results. ACC announces institutional scholarships on a rotating basis throughout the year.
Community College of Aurora
|Aurora, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
The Community College of Aurora features 13 academic departments such as film school, computer and digital technologies, and public safety. Students can choose from numerous degree and certificate programs including CISCO, fire science, and diesel power mechanics. Online learners access coursework through the Desire2Learn software, which allows them to interact with peers and professors in real time.
Students at this community college in Colorado receive valuable support, benefiting from a student services center and highly trained advisors that work one-on-one with high school concurrent students and DACA recipients. Learners can also explore internship and career opportunities throughout the state through the school's Career Services Office.
The CCA Navigate program introduces online and on-campus students to topics such as how to register for courses. All learners also meet with a Pathways Advisor before registering. Transfer credit must reflect a minimum C grade, and CCA awards credit through CLEP and Advanced Placement exams. Students not eligible for financial aid can still set up a tuition payment plan.
Lamar Community College
|Lamar, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Lamar Community College offers easily transferable associate degrees to students throughout Prowers, Baca, Kiowa, and Cheyenne counties. Learners receive access to essential support and instructional strategies to help them succeed academically. They also benefit from trained professors who value respect, open communication, and students' individual needs.
Learners can earn an associate degree in a specific subject or an associate of general studies; the latter degree prepares students to pursue a major at a four-year school. Associate of applied science degrees prepare learners for a career and include options in equine business management and renewable energy technologies.
Application requirements for this community college in Colorado include an in-person campus visit, FAFSA results, and placements tests. LCC exempts incoming students with ACT or SAT scores from testing requirements. In-state students may qualify for a Colorado Student Grant or Colorado Merit Scholarship. The latter requires a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Front Range Community College
|Westminster, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Front Range Community College offers numerous start dates throughout the year, giving learners the chance to start an associate degree when convenient for them. With degree options in six areas -- including business and information technology -- students can graduate in just two years. Local high school students can also learn concurrently or explore potential careers with the help of an FRCC advisor.
FRCC delivers more than 350 online courses each semester. Degree-seekers can choose between FRCC online courses and Colorado Community College online courses, the latter of which are taught by instructors from different schools. All incoming online students complete an orientation that introduces them to Desire2Learn, the school's learning management system, and online studying best practices.
Like all community colleges in Colorado on this ranking, FRCC accepts the GED. The college also accepts transfer credit and awards credit based on military training and examination. The Colorado Opportunity Fund provides financial aid to active-duty military personnel and veterans.
Northeastern Junior College
|Sterling, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
Northeastern Junior College offers a diverse mix of associate degrees and certificate programs in areas such as land management and the sheep industry. Students can learn more about each program's curriculum and associated career paths on NJC's website.
Online courses at this Colorado community college allow learners to take all assessments at home. However, some online courses may require degree-seekers to participate in field trips or other hands-on experiences. With asynchronous courses, online students can access course content at any time of day. Valuable student support services at this Colorado community college include a Student Success Center that provides academic and career advising services.
All applicants submit FAFSA results to determine financial aid eligibility. Incoming learners with acceptable SAT or ACT scores do not take placement tests. NJC provides dozens of scholarship opportunities throughout the year, each with its own application deadline.
Otero Junior College
|La Junta, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
The academic programs at Otero Junior College include AA and AS degrees as well as career-centered certificate programs. In the associate of general studies program, students can prepare for transfer to a four-year public college or university in Colorado. The school's eight certificate programs include agriculture, cosmetology, and nursing assistant.
While OJC does not offer any entirely online programs, students can take online courses through the Colorado Community College System. OJC also participates in the TRiO Student Support Services Program to provide free tutoring, counseling, and financial aid services.
Prospective students can explore OJC's certificates and degrees by viewing informational videos. Like other community colleges, OJC participates in the Alternative Credit Project to give degree-seekers who previously dropped out of college a pathway to apply prior credits toward a degree. Colorado residents with a minimum 2.5 high school GPA may qualify for a merit scholarship.
Pikes Peak Community College
|Colorado Springs, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Pikes Peak Community College boasts more than 190 degree and certificate programs, 11 of which students can complete entirely online. Transferable associate degrees at this Colorado community college include programs in construction management technology, studio art, and criminal justice. Learners earning a certificate in phlebotomy or medical reception and coding can transfer the certificate to a four-year public school in Colorado.
E-learning students can earn a hybrid degree where they take some courses on one of PPCC's three campuses in Colorado Springs. Like their on-campus equivalents, online courses may require prerequisites or placement testing. All online learners may also complete an extensive introduction to online learning that conveys best practices for online studying.
Prospective learners meet with an academic advisor before registering for courses. Benefits for military students include a peer mentoring program that involves career exploration and academic tutoring. Students who act as a peer mentor can qualify for up to a $1,000 scholarship.